Rescuers during a callout on Pen y Fan. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

Rescuers during a callout on Pen y Fan. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

A rescue team in south Wales has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team has a history going back almost 60 years.

Its members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and stand ready to respond in all weathers, working alongside police and ambulance staff to aid people who are lost, injured or needing help in rural and mountainous areas and difficult to reach urban locations.

The team’s history includes the Aberfan disaster in 1966 when a colliery waste-heap landslide engulfed a village school, and helping the emergency services following the deaths of SAS members in the Brecon Beacons in 2013.

In 2017 the team faced its biggest challenge when a fire destroyed all its vehicles, equipment and caused major damage to the base. Despite this, Central Beacons MRT remained operational by borrowing vehicles and kit from teams around England and Wales. Its members are now back in their rescue base with new vehicles and equipment, averaging more than 120 callouts a year. In the more recent past members were involved in relief operations during Storm Dennis just as Covid-19 hit the country in 2020.

The Central Beacons team. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

The Central Beacons team. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

The Merthyr Tydfil-based Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. It is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.

Central Beacons MRT chair Penny Brockman said: “We are absolutely delighted and immensely proud to have our 60 years of service to the community recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest accolade for any charity.

“This award is testament to the dedication and commitment of all our team members, past and present, who have remained on call 24/7, throughout the year, whatever the weather, to help those in need in south Wales.

“It is recognition, too, for their families and employers who stand compassionately behind us as we leave home or work at a moment’s notice to help others. We couldn’t do what we do without their support and understanding.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

Award winners this year include a rural support group for farmers in Shropshire; a community magazine addressing isolation in the Western Isles; a running club engaging all ages in County Tyrone; a film academy and community hub based in south Wales, and a food bank in Greater London feeding vulnerable individuals and providing training opportunities.

Representatives of Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team will receive the award crystal and certificate from Peter Vaughan, Lord-Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan, later this summer. Two volunteers from the team will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

Penrith team members who have received the platinum jubilee medal. Photo: Penrith MRT

Penrith team members who have received the platinum jubilee medal. Photo: Penrith MRT

  • Volunteer members of rescue teams across the UK will receive special awards to mark the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal will be given to all mountain rescue personnel with five or more years’ service, alongside frontline emergency service staff, including police, fire, ambulance, coastguard and lifeboat staff and volunteers.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for search and rescue, Glen Mayhew, expressed admiration for ‘the professionalism and commitment team members display as search and rescue volunteers’.

“The commitment, high level of skill and outstanding passion for this role makes such a difference, and this medal is being awarded as a token of the nation’s thanks. I appreciate that callouts will occur at most inconvenient times and that SAR volunteers are reliant on supportive and understanding families, friends and employers.

“We are honoured to have such dedicated and professional volunteers working alongside the statutory authorities.”

Among those to receive the medal are 19 members of Penrith Mountain Rescue Team, whose area extends from the far eastern fells of the Lake District across to the North Pennines and all the way up to the Scottish border, accounting for about 1,600sq miles.

Team leader Peter King, himself a recipient of the medal, said: “Along with our emergency services colleagues, we are proud and delighted at the recognition of our work that the award of the platinum medal to our longer serving team members represents.

“As at all other times of the year, should the need arise, we will be available throughout the platinum jubilee long holiday weekend but hope that visitors and locals alike will enjoy the outdoors and the mountains safely.”

The team also offered its congratulations to the Queen. “None of us come close to 70 years of service, and it is an honour to be associated with the platinum jubilee celebrations.”

  • Martin College, of Ingleton, North Yorkshire, a member and trustee of the Cave Rescue Organisation in Clapham, received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Mr College, a beat manager for Forestry England at Gisburn Forest, received the award for services to forestry, cave rescue and exploration.

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